They say if you want to become a true expert at something, you need to dedicate 10,000 hours of continuous hard work. How many topics or skills could you say you're an expert at?
There’s always more to learn. This is especially true for IT pros. Fortunately, you’re in a unique position where although there is so much to learn, there is also a wealth of information and learning tools available to you online.
Let's look at seven different online skill building resources you can use to help take you to that “expert” level. By the end of this post, you’ll understand not only why it’s important to improve your skills, but where you can go to access this vital information.
The Importance of Improving Your Skills
As an IT pro, it’s important to improve your skills for a number of reasons. First, if you want to excel in your own role, there are often other complementary skills you don’t currently have, but would help you do your job better.
Secondly, if you ever decide to move to a new company, it can work to your advantage if you show that you’ve built habits and processes of independent learning. Furthermore, there could even be topics or skills that you don’t do in your job role, but would like to learn for your own personal beneﬁt.
In any case, improving your skills is important to help you feel satisﬁed in your role and your life.
Where to Find Free Skill Building Resources
There are a number of different resources available to you to help you improve and develop your skills. We’ll now take a deep dive look at seven of these resources to help you get a clearer idea of which ones would work best for you.
Free Microsoft Training Delivered by Experts
Microsoft has their own knowledge base that anyone can use to improve their skills in some core areas. It goes without saying, the key skills are all based around Microsoft products.
Whether you’re a developer, IT Pro or Data Pro, there will be a course available for you to use.
The courses are free and video-based.
When you’ve ﬁnished your course, you have the option to take part in a survey to highlight what you thought about the course and whether you’d recommend it to a friend. To further your learning, you can also get involved with the learning forums set out by Microsoft to help students engage with each other and learn from their peers.
Skillshare is an online learning hub with a range of different courses within different industries. They have over 23,000 classes on their system. Skillshare isn’t just for IT pros. Therefore, it becomes a valuable resource for anyone who wants to expand their skills outside of their normal job role.
However, if you do want to make use of the courses for IT pros, there's a range to pick from.
Let’s look at data science as an example.
Each class is produced by a different teacher. In fact, if you believe you have some knowledge to share, you too can become a Skillshare teacher.
Before you choose your course, you can see how many other students are enrolled, as well as the duration of the course.
One of the beneﬁts of using Skillshare is you have direct access to your teacher. When you follow along with your teacher, you are able to ask speciﬁc questions. This could be because you’ve not quite understood some of the course material, or you want to clarify something with the teacher in question.
In most cases, the teachers on Skillshare are active and receptive to questions.
EdX is a platform that offers classes from top professionals in top universities like Harvard.
In the example below, you can see that this course is conducted by three Harvard professors. Each course has a description as to whether or not it’s self-paced. Alongside this, it gives details as to how much effort you’ll need to put in in order to complete the course as well as whether you need to have any prerequisite qualiﬁcations in order to take it.
Although the course is free, if you’d like an official certiﬁcate to say you took the course, you’ll need to pay $90. However, if you’re using these courses to improve your job prospects, it could be worthwhile paying for it in order to use it on your CV, or professional proﬁles.
The MIT courses range from topic to topic, but as you can imagine, they all have an engineering and computer science focus. Each course consists of a mixture of lectures and labs.
Alongside this, there are a wide range of assessments that enable you to assess whether or not you’ve understood the course content.
Although there are a range of course materials, they also have a link to a range of other related resources to help you grasp the content in the most effective way possible. As a free course platform, using MIT is great for those who want to improve their knowledge using course materials from one of the best schools in the world.
Dash - General Assembly
The courses are split into speciﬁc projects that break down each task into easy to complete steps.
The Dash course is split into 5 projects and help you understand how to build things like CSS moving images, small business websites, responsive blog themes and more.
Cybrary training is free! If you want lifetime access, all you need to do is create an account. Their course focus is to help you build your IT cyber security skills so you can land your next job.
There are a range of different topics all organized by your level. The beneﬁt of this system means you don’t start training that you’re unable to do, due to your skill level.
When you’ve chosen the course you’d like to take part in, you can see how long the course will take you to complete as well as who is teaching the course. The courses are video-based and run you through the core content you need to know.
When you’ve ﬁnished the learning aspect, you can use their virtual practice labs to put your new knowledge to the test in a real-life situation.
If for any reason you’re struggling, or just want to talk to like minded people who are interested in the same things you are, they have a free forum you can use to interact with other people studying similar topics.
It doesn’t make sense to create a list of free online skill building resources and not include Udemy. Udemy is one of the most popular online learning resource hubs and not just because of their IT pro content, but because they have content and course across a wide multitude of different topics.
As you can see from the screenshot above, their categories cover almost everything you might want to learn about. All you need to do is choose the topic or sort of content you want to learn about and you can pick your course.
Anyone can become a Udemy course teacher. If you feel as though you have something useful and valuable to add to a community and can produce a detailed, easy-to-understand course, you should consider it. There are a range of free and paid courses on Udemy. One of their most useful features is their reviews and rating system. Before you even choose the course you want to do, you can check how many others have completed the course and what their view of its usefulness was.
Regardless of your role, you may be actively looking for resources that can help you improve your existing skills or develop new ones.
There are many reasons why you might want to learn new skills. You could be looking to get a promotion to a higher level role that requires a certain degree of understanding of new, complex topics. You might have a speciﬁc interest in a topic that you don’t cover within your job role.
Or perhaps, you want to learn new skills to consolidate your current role and make it easier for you to complete your tasks. Nevertheless, we’ve provided you with seven online resources you can use to build your skills. Some of these are paid and some of these are free. The resources you use will largely depend on what level you’re currently at, how much budget you have and what speciﬁc skills you’re hoping to learn.
As Anthony J. D’Angelo said: “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”